“February 21. If I had experienced different things, I would have different things to say.
So often, I have felt troubled and guilty bearing witness to my pain, and yet, not to make things worse. Somehow, in saying just what Mother had done in her cruel need to be the center, or just what Father couldn’t do out of his fear of facing my mother; somehow, telling the truth as I know it makes me feel like a bad person – as if I’m making my pain up, as if I’m hurting others by saying bad things about them.
But the unshakable bottom of all this is that I’m not making things up. If I have unkind things to say, its because I’ve experienced unkind things. And so, my only guide in this witnessing is to be accurate and honest. While I am not a victim, I didn’t ask for certain shaping experiences to happen to me. I didn’t ask to be slapped or ridiculed as a boy or to be mistreated by lifelong friends later in life. In truth, If I had experienced different things, I would have different things to say.
What is most healing about bearing witness to things exactly as they are, including my own part in my pain, is that when the voice of the pain fits the pain, there is no room for distortion or illusion. In this way, truth becomes a clean bandage that heals, keeping dirt out of the wound.
To voice things as they are is the nearest medicine.”
Searching for a recipe, I realized that today was as good as any to make a stab at organization. I have a tendency to pull out a recipe, make the dish and stuff the recipe back in the box in the front or back ignoring the TABS WITH THE CATEGORY written on them. It is apparently a difficult concept for my embarrassingly lack of detail for the small things in my life!
Today I have committed to transferring recipes in that pile in the top left onto recipe cards.
While I started out dreading this process, pretty soon I was reading recipes to him and telling him from memory where I got it or the first time I made it. Like a dessert with chocolate I made the first time I cooked for him in 1978 before I knew he didn’t like chocolate (I married him anyway). But todays blessing for me was remembering the givers of the recipes…family and friends…many not with me anymore….but the memory of the breakfast casserole from Mary or Aunt Frances’ radish dip, my mom’s scalloped oysters and Jane’s grape salad brought them so close I could hear and feel them.
Someday I anticipate my daughters going through my recipe box saying OH GOD REMEMBER WHEN MOM MADE THIS or more gently with a tear, oh god, remember when mom made this. Our memories come back to us in many ways…I cherish the ones that I remember as a tear slides down my cheek!
I had a blessed visit this morning with my dad…..it manifested with steepled fingers. Elbows on the arms of the chair with all 5 hand digits touching each other only connecting at the finger pads. It’s one of those memories of seeing my dad sitting in his recliner with his head back with his hands touching in the steepled finger position. The very last time I saw my dad was from the door of his hospital room shortly before his transition, laying in bed with fingers in the steepled position occasionally moving his hands as if having a conversation with someone I could not see.
This morning during the Daily Word and meditation portion of our Unity Service with my eyes closed I felt tears beginning to trickle from the outer corners of my closed eyes and my attention was drawn to the fact that my elbows were resting on the arms of the chair and my 5 finger pads on each hand were touching in a steeple position and I knew that my dad was close by. I wondered why the visit!
The energy of my dad visits often when I am open to his guidance or I am in a moment when I recognize I’m feeling lost or lonely and need some love. It’s not that I actually reach out or seek his connection, it’s that he just appears in my vulnerable heart. I am learning to allow the embrace, allow the connection, recognizing that his presence is here with me always and most importantly understanding that his presence is as real as if he were looking at me across the room from his recliner in his physical form.
I was just telling the girls about what a hard worker you were! I told the story about you wanting to firm up the back yard in our first home in the late 50’s by hauling broken up concrete from a parking lot being torn up near our house…all of it in the trunk of your ‘49 Ford. Back and forth…then built up the wall so the back yard would quit flowing down the hill when it rained.
You worked a job you didn’t love for 33 years because you needed to take care of your family.
You were so very artistic and talented and I’m so honored to have your creations to remember you by.
You loved me and were always my silent protector. You loved your granddaughters with the same fervor.
Many times I know you forced yourself out of your introverted personality to be present in social situations.
And my biggest regret is that I feel I did not give you the love and honor you deserved because I could not bring myself to visit you next door because of your wife, my mother. My biggest regret in life is that I didn’t make more of an effort to find a way to just “be” with you and ignore her. But our last moments together in the hospital room when you were still alive and I massaged lotion on your forehead and the top of your head and you closed your eyes. I knew you felt it. My love!
Your energy is with me every day, Daddy! Our energy. Our love!
There is absolutely nothing going on today. It’s breezy, barely over 60 so I decided to use this day as a ?mental?health day which turned into I reallyneed to find something constructive to do….I’m bored!
My last thought as I was cleaning up lunch dishes and putting silverware in the dish washer was a silly comment made yesterday by my 7 (going on 8) year old grandson. Phil and I adopted several sets of silverware when our relatives passed on from old age. This is in addition to the silverware that we had used daily and another set I kept in the drawer for when we had people over and I wanted to have a set that completely matched. Yesterday “J” noticed he and his brother were eating with different patterned forks. “J” got up, opened the silverware drawer and said…. “just like snowflakes, not a fork in the drawer is the same”.
Where does a 7 year old learn these turn of phrases? And more to the point… I only notice different silverware in my drawer because I hate eating with the lightweight, narrower silverware from HIS family and much prefer the heavier, bulkier from MY family.
Not that long ago, I was actually using silverware I bought at a thrift store. Heavy because the untined (not a real word BTW) end of the fork was covered with plastic. They lasted a long time but too many washes in the dishwasher finally weakened the glue that held the plastic on. I was very protective of this silverware…and decided once it was gone, I would just stop eating.
Ya. Didn’t happen. I assume you don’t want a story about the other thoughts that have shot through my mind this morning. I took a picture of a pound of butter for later.
Extensive discussion about our silverware is also available at the following link:
I have been thinking it was retirement that has taken the pressure off. The pressure of no longer entertaining the belief that I’m not as smart or as worthy as everyone else…mentally living in my head believing that because I didn’t pursue a college educated career I wasn’t as good as or as worthy as others. That’s not it! I jumped out of bed this morning searching for pen and paper in order to get this most recent download recorded.
I’ve always known that I was raised by common parents…common being dad graduated from high school, enjoyed being with himself fishing or hunting, worked a “job” to make a living. Because of his job choice, he was able to take his art to work with him and create who he was on the job while hourly walking around pushing buttons and checking gages. I have no doubt I’m over simplifying his job. My mother didn’t graduate from high school but spent many of my growing up years taking sewing classes and living the life of a secretary for a lawyer. She always called herself a legal secretary and while I knew that “legal secretaries” were probably credentialed…she was theoretically a legal secretary.
I married into a cerebral family which didn’t help my self esteem at the time …. I just knew I was different than they were and did not fit into this family who I assumed looked down on me because I didn’t know “stuff”….I knew street smart stuff, I knew life stuff but I didn’t know the right stuff. The comparison that I always made was an illusion of my own making….if I had only known then what I know now.
I have always been exactly what I was meant to be…it was the ancestoral or familial blocks that had to be excavated, discarded so that I could understand I was a vital part of the whole of humanity. I contributed but I did not understand my part in the big picture was as important as the next person. So when I woke this morning with this knowing. There is nothing I need to do physically, mentally or spiritually to be who I thought I could be…These are just soul blocks that I’m in this lifetime to work through and remove. Being me is not something I need to aspire to …. it is what I AM.
I have always loved cows….in fact, I have no idea how I could still be eating them but I can’t go there right now.
My grandma had Jersey cows for milking…I always thought they had adorable faces
Amongst my many collections of “things” that have come and gone was my cow collection which I finally parted with a few years ago….but I kept these which were always somewhere in my kitchen(s) as they are now.
The milk bottle in the middle is an Anderson Erickson milk bottle my dad had saved from the days when milk was delivered and deposited in a metal box by the front door.
But the MOST cherished bottles are these milk bottles that belonged to my dad and his dad when they ran a dairy in the late 1930’s or 40’s in Iowa. I also found sleeves of bottle caps used by them.
And then the cows sculpted by my dad
This trip down memory lane happened after a walk today. Christmas decorations!!!!!!! tis the season!
Thanksgiving this year was just one of those events in my life where I said, Yep…can’t do anything about it…just get through it. Poof…seems as soon as I released my attachment to what it should be, what it’s always been, and stopped ruminating…I began to find some peace, joy and gratitude!
Except for the young hen turkey instead of a Tom….and too much sage in the dressing and not really understanding how much less milk is needed for Yukon yellow mashed potatoes rather than russets, the food was excellent and the 5 ingredient corn casserole was the best one ever and I did not miss the green bean casserole AT ALL (possibly the first holiday in 64 years without it).
I went with a tongue in cheek comment from our youngest daughter that we could just zoom while we all ate our meals in our 3 little units….so we set the IPAD up on the table and everyone zoomed in for our meal…our family time clocks are all different but this way we get to enjoy each other 3 times in the day. he and I have saved dessert for the next daughter’s meal and then we will get dessert the second time for the second daughter’s meal. We did this recipe except put it in a graham cracker crust.
Easy peasy. And our two year old Rhoads rolls in the freezer didn’t rise appropriately for the occasion, I did find that the drawer under the oven was a great place for them to do their best. It gave me the idea that in the future this will be a perfect place to keep food warm as I prepare a meal.
So with gratitude, my friends, we hold you all in love and light as we hold each other up!
Our Spirit Group facilitator, Mary, helped me through an emotionally challenging, teary discussion by having me switch to referring to myself in the 3rd person rather than as I. Using this process (while cumbersome at first) really works in taking the sting out of words. Later on, during a counseling session, a therapist used the same method with He and I which made honest conversation easier to acknowledge.
Here’s an excerpt from an article I found from Psychology Today:
“When using third person or “non-first-person” pronouns during self-talk, you do not use pronouns such as I, me, or my. Instead, you speak to yourself (either in a hushed tone or silently inside your own head) using pronouns such as you, he, she, it, or your own first or last name. In recent years, a wide range of studies has found that third-person self-talk can improve emotion regulation and self-control by facilitating self-distancing and reducing egocentric bias”
Years ago while learning to cope with and live with my relationship with my mother, I began to refer to her in conversations by her given name. While I absolutely did not have the gonads to call her Helen to her face, I recall the feelings of less lethal emotions when I gave myself permission to not refer to her with the beloved name of Mom. Of course, mom wasn’t actually the name she preferred…it was Mother. It’s highly likely that Mother is a loving name spoken from children to their beloved. But in my case it was a “formal” expectation which was another knife wound that separated mother and daughter.
In a FB conversation with a friend this morning, I referred to mom as Helen….and that’s what brought this whole train of thought coursing through my brain like a slow meandering stream. Use it if it feels good. We all have uncomfortably charged conversations
When I was in the grips of pain, depression, and overwhelming anxiety which I blamed on my job, my role as caretaker of my elderly mother and Aunt, feeling like an outcast in my husbands family and hating who I was because of the way I was thinking and the way my body looked…whew…I felt like at every opportunity, I needed to tell my story. My story had no happiness but involved my upbringing, my loneliness, my familial burdens as well as every other thing that I considered to be my negative personal affliction. By telling my story, at least I got attention, I had a line of people who felt sorry for me, I had friends who would get down there in the mud and wallow with me. I thought I was fortunate *fist on forehead, that I at least had that!
Each step forward I thought I could make myself feel better by changing my surroundings and my personal appearance but the brick wall I was running into got thicker and thicker. Finally a therapist led me around the brick wall.
Today…I woke up feeling like I was going to have a sensitive pre-holiday day…but I started out mindfully feeling gratitude…I took my oldest grandson to school this morning and he chatted as if he was in my head and knew I needed to hear what he was saying….gratitude. I’m babysitting my 3 year old grandson today and he’s laughing and full of joy…gratitude. I was thinking about Christmas past and I felt gratitude….I was loved and I have friends and family who love me. When my grandson pushed the button on the paw of a toy dog that sings Blue Christmas over and over again, I felt gratitude. My mom bought this stuffed dog for herself a couple years before she died…I felt an unusual thankfulness for my mother and her gift to me of memories of those cherished christmases past. For a moment, I felt myself wanting to rethink my story…the familiar story I used to tell myself… but I just stopped and realized gratitude was my new story and here I am. Right here and right now, I’m so thankful!